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Political parties have welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa's decision to keep the country under a Level 1 lockdown, despite the emergence of a new variant of the virus that causes Covid-19, as well as increasing infection rates.
On Sunday, Ramaphosa announced that the country would remain under an Alert Level 1 lockdown as scientists continued to try to find out as much information as possible about the Omicron variant.
Commenting on the move, Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen said imposing tighter restrictions would be detrimental to the economy.
"We are glad that the government has finally come to its senses and moved away from stifling economic activity, banning beaches and so forth. It is just a pity that thousands of businesses, millions of jobs, and billions of rands of tax revenue had to be lost before government came to its senses on economic restrictions."
As the fourth infection wave approaches, the government should ensure that hospitals are well equipped, provide booster Covid-19 vaccine shots to older people and run proper communication campaigns to dispel myths about vaccinations, Steenhuisen said.
In a statement, the Freedom Front Plus agreed and welcomed the president's decision.
"South Africa simply cannot afford it due to the severe damage caused to the country's economy by the previous stringent lockdown regulations. This was evident in the desperate pleas from the alcohol industry, among others, saying that further restrictions would have disastrous consequences," the party said.
However, it warned that mandatory vaccinations would not be wise, adding:
In the Freedom Front Plus's view, making vaccinations mandatory will not achieve the desired effect. On the contrary, it will only arouse opposition. Getting vaccinated must remain one's own free choice.
It added that effective communication aimed at motivating and persuading people to vaccinate would achieve a much more positive outcome in the fight against Covid-19.
GOOD also welcomed the government's calm response to the developments.
Secretary-general Brett Herron said that at a time when the world reacted with extreme haste and apparent panic to the discovery of the Omicron variant, the president's announcement was welcome.
"The fact that the vaccine is widely and easily available informs our government's response but it is essential that more people get the vaccine if we are to reduce the public health risk and uncertainty and return as close to normal as possible," Herron said.
GOOD also welcomed the announcement that the government was engaging with stakeholders about a vaccine mandate and was considering the kinds of venues, workplaces and activities that could require proof of vaccination.
"The current rate of vaccination is too slow and a vaccine mandate is now clearly required to increase vaccine coverage and to support our economic recovery," he added.
The Inkatha Freedom Party also commended the president and the National Coronavirus Command Council for a pragmatic approach.
"We believe that it is wise not to rush into any decisions. This, particularly as additional restrictions could prove detrimental to South Africa's economy, which has only recently started to display green shoots. The diplomatic engagements regarding South Africa being placed on travel red lists must be prioritised to minimise the negative impact on tourism," the party added.
It applauded South African scientists for monitoring and identifying the new variant.
"Our scientific and healthcare professionals continue to be the first line of defence against the coronavirus, and for this, we will remain forever indebted to them," it said.